This post contains affiliate links. I read a lot of WWII books, but I haven’t branched out much into WWI. In my list of 30 historical books I want to read in 2020, only two were about WWI. One of them was The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. After a few months on the wait list at the public library, I finally got to read the book. My question now is, why isn’t there more good World War I fiction out there? If there is, how do I find it?
About The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
This book has two story lines running at the same time. The first is a rather benign story line. Nineteen year old Charlotte (Charlie) is a pregnant American. Her mother brought her to Europe to have surgery to get rid of her “little problem.” Charlie, however, ditches her mother and goes on a mission to find her cousin who disappeared in World War II, three years ago. Her first place to look is with a woman named Eve.
Eve has the second, more compelling story line. When Charlie meets Eve, she is a washed up woman in her 50s who rarely leaves the house and drinks herself to sleep most nights. Her hands are deformed.
The book alternates chapter by chapter from 1915 (on through 1919) to 1947. The reader discovers, as does Charlie, that Eve used to be a spy in the Alice Network during World War I. Eve’s story is compelling. Truly, she was no less a soldier than the men who fought the war. I am amazed that women 100 years ago were shredding gender stereotypes by risking their own lives, in their own way, for the war effort.
Charlie’s story line shows the effects of World War II on Europe and serves as an echo to the effects of World War I.
My Thoughts on the Book
I really enjoyed this book and loved that it centered on two strong-willed women, Eve and Charlie.
I also enjoyed learning that the Alice Network was a real spy ring that had several female participants and a female ring leader. The protagonist in this story, Eve, is a fictional character. However, two of the women she works with in the spy network are based on real women who worked in the Alice Network.
On a different note, I know that women didn’t have much freedom back in the 1940s. Yet, I was surprised that when 19 year old Charlie tried to withdraw money from her bank account, the bank wouldn’t allow her to because she didn’t have a man with her.
I highly recommend The Alice Network by Kate Quinn and give it 5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale. Be forewarned that it was a bit risque in some places.
If you’d like to read more WWI fiction, consider Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb.